Recently, it has made headline news that President Barack Obama has announced his support for the marriage of a LGBT couple. I know that a lot of my fellow classmates have already spoken about this but hopefully I will be able to keep this interesting and shed some light on the subject. In our government studies this year, several topics have caught my eye but one has been the use of campaign commercials and the relationship of the political parties. Hopefully I can examine the reasoning behind his decision to support gay marriage.
Vice President Joe Biden also came out and supported gay marriage three days earlier than . When I heard President Barack Obama’s comments, I had a few thoughts. I thought that maybe Barack Obama felt pressured into also supporting gay marriage just because his vice president supported as well. I also thought that maybe Vice President Biden stole President Obama’s thunder by supporting gay marriage just days before the President. It turns out that both the former and the latter might be true. According to The New York Times, Vice President apologized to President Obama for, “hastening him into an endorsement of same-sex marriage, several people briefed on the exchange said Thursday, even as the White House sought to capitalize in the campaign on Mr. Obama’s long-awaited expression of support” (1). The campaign of President Obama really wanted to be progressive and support gay marriage but Biden called a press conference first and his views were much different than Obama’s views. Even though President Obama’s support has been highly analyzed, Biden made the headlines first and some people have questions about President Obama’s motives. I don’t doubt that President Obama supports gay marriage, but I think he was forced into saying it by his fellow party members.
President Obama is now the first President of the United States to support gay marriage, but it does not necessary mean anything for the legalization in America of gay marriage. Sean Eldridge, senior adviser at Freedom to Marry, told Yahoo News, “Today is more about moral leadership and less about policy. I don’t think his statement will immediately translate into policy since marriage still is for the most part a state issue” (2). Eldridge brings up some good points. If marriage is mostly a state issue, it would take a while to make the 6 states that allow it to become 50. The President has shown support of LGBT in the past; this statement didn’t come out of nowhere. He ended the ban of openly gay members to be in the military. He also, “supports the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, and he ordered the Justice Department last year to abandon the law’s defense” (2). Now that President Obama supports gay marriage, he is the best hope for the LGBT community to earn the right to get married. Although it could be just a political ploy, it seems like President Obama is trying his best to allow gay marriage in America even though he may not be ready to cope with the thought of it yet.
Obama said that he recently changed his mind when he spoke with openly LGBT members of the military. He has a track record with being supportive of gay rights and equality for all, but it is still unclear whether this is a political ploy or a truthful acknowledgment. Well, it’s both. The timing is good for his campaign and Joe Biden also came out and supported it, both signs that it could be a political act. His track record, however, proves that he does in fact support gay rights. Honestly, it is up to the reader to decide what his ulterior motives are and what he truly believes.
During our most recent Government lessons, I was most intrigued by the staggering amount of money spent in elections and campaigns. Michelle Bachman spent over 11 million dollars campaigning for a House seat, almost three times more than her opponent. She was re-elected, most likely because people electing knew much more about her than the other opponent. Many people have argued that money is corruptive and bad for elections while others say it is necessary. After I finished this assignment, I wanted to dig a little deeper into the power of money in elections and trying to follow the money trail.
Elections, whether it’s for the House up to Presidential race, are fueled by money. According to Opensecrets.org, “In 93 percent of House of Representatives races and 94 percent of Senate races that had been decided by mid-day Nov. 5, the candidate who spent the most money ended up winning, according to a post-election analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.” That is an absolutely amazing statistic and it shows that the candidate with the most money will most likely be the victor.
In the 2008 election, John McCain received about 50% of his money from individuals, 25% from federal funding, which leaves 25% to the category “other.” Who knows who or what “other” means, but it seems a little sketchy.From federal funding alone, he earned about $84 million dollars (Source: opensecrets.org). To gain federal funding, McCain had to meet qualifications, including, “Spend public funds only for campaign-related expenses or, in the case of a party convention, for convention-related expenses;Limit spending to amounts specified by the campaign finance law; Keep records and, if requested, supply evidence of qualified expenses;” (Source opensecrets.org). During a great recession at this time, it bothers me that Presidential candidates can receive funding from the government if he cannot support his campaign properly. However, if the candidate does not break any of the rules above, he does not have to pay anything he received back. Bringing it back to the election, Barack Obama nearly had three times the money received compared to John McCain, a large advantage in today’s media-filled elections. I’m not saying that Barack Obama won because he had more money to spend, but he did earn a significant, and maybe even unfair, advantage in the Presidential race. Not only did Obama win, but John McCain (kind of) wasted 84 million dollars in a lost campaign.
Another thing I want to learn about is the usage of money in elections. The total expenditures for the total 2012 Presidential elections is in the picture below: (you can click on it to zoom)
Administrative is the largest amount spent toward, which includes running a campaign, including staff salaries and benefits, travel expenses, office rent, utilities, equipment, etc. Basically, administrative expenses are what it takes to run the campaign. In fact, salaries and benefits for members of the administration pretty much equals the amount to create fundraising. Salaries and benefits get the most money out of anything else, which is pretty sketchy to me. Money in campaigns was always a mystery to me; I always thought pretty much all of it was for campaigning. However, it seems that about more than half of the money received goes towards personal expenses. Bringing back John McCain, if over half of the campaigning money was not even used for campaigning, this leads to over $45 million dollars spent for the personal luxuries of running for President: jet rides, fancy dinners, 5 star hotels, etc.. Money in campaigns is a very dangerous threat and must be documented well in order to stop any sneaky business.
Money in elections and campaigns is a tricky business. Money is necessary for informing the people about the candidates but too much money could result in a problem. In elections, money can cause underdogs and favorites in an instance. Michelle Bachman was known nation-wide compared to the almost anonymous opposing candidate. In campaigns, money is used for a variety of things, including the important like fundraising and the mysterious expenses, like the $10 million dollars spent this 2012 election for “miscellaneous administrative.” I do believe that money fuels elections, but the amount of money spent in campaigns might need to be toned down just a bit. The extra money in one candidate’s pockets could be the difference in a close elections.